Asked to select Shah Rukh instead of Mohanlal for ‘Best Actor’ award: Sibi Malayil’s shocking revelation

Sibi Malayil, Mohanlal
Sibi Malayil, Mohanlal. Photo: Manorama Online

Director Sibi Malayil has made a startling revelation that the film 'Paradesi', written and directed by P T Kunju Muhammed, had been “excluded” from the 2009 National Film Awards and that he was even asked to give the Best Actor award to Shah Rukh Khan instead of Mohanlal.

Mohanlal deserved the prestigious award for acting, P T Kunju Muhammed for direction, Rafeeq Ahammed for lyrics, and Sujatha for singing, but the film only got the award for make-up, Sibi Malayil said while inaugurating a cultural fest titled 'P T - Kalayum Kaalavum' held on the life of P T Kunju Muhammed at the Sahitya Akademi.
"At that time, the chairman asked why not Shah Rukh Khan be given the best actor award instead of Mohanlal, and then the award ceremony would become a grand affair,” he revealed.

Sujatha was considered for the best singer award for singing the song starting ‘Thattam pidichu valikkalle...’ She was “pushed aside” at the last moment, Sibi Malayil said. He opined that PT Kunju Muhammed is one of the Malayalam film personalities who has been sidelined and has not received the recognition he deserves. What makes him different is the fact that his stand in cinema and politics remains unchanged.

“Cinematographer Sunny Joseph and I were the Malayalees on the jury. We wanted 'Paradesi' to get an award at least for the director, costume, lyricist, and singer, and strongly advocated for it. Sujatha's award for the best singer was decided by the committee and recorded. However, the festival director, hailing from North India, who came for the meet, as casually for lunch, asked who would get the award for the singer.

“When he learned it was for Sujatha, he asked if they had not heard Shreya Ghoshal's song from 'Jab We Met.' He took the initiative and brought a video cassette, displayed it, and altered the award. Although the jury is confidential, this information is now being disclosed because it has been a long time since the event took place. It's a great achievement that Malayalam filmmakers are winning awards by competing with North Indians," the director said.

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